Liz Gannes

Recent Posts by Liz Gannes

500 Startups Sends 22 of Them Into the World

500 Startups–Dave McClure’s seed fund, accelerator program, communal office and yes, he dares call it an “incubator”–today held its first open house to show off 22 young companies.

In attendance were many of the same angelic faces that showed up to Y Combinator’s Demo Day two weeks ago and AngelPad’s Demo Day last week.

500 Startups’ tone is more whimsical than the earnest hacker vibe of its peers; McClure, known as much for his swearing as his investing, encouraged attendees to heckle presenters, and presenters to roll with the hiccups in their presentation slides, and they did.

500 Startups participants told me that their group as a whole is more focused on consumers and less focused on advertising business models than other young start-ups.

But they are not all that unique of snowflakes: for instance, Spoondate sounds just like Grubwithus in Y Combinator’s most recent class. Not to say that helping users make new friends by arranging dinner dates at restaurants–as both companies do–is a bad idea.

In chats with participating companies, the infographic building and sharing tool Visual.ly was mentioned multiple times as one of the most promising companies in the bunch. Others that got shout-outs included MotionMath (movement-based learning games), Ninua (social news apps with 1.7 million users already), ReadyForZero (credit card debt management) and SpeakerGram (speaking engagement management tools).

Here’s the list of the 500 Startups accelerator company pitches:

InternMatch connects students with amazing internships.

Spoondate is the easiest way to meet and eat with someone wherever you go.

Punchd http://getpunchd.com: We put loyalty cards on your smartphone. Businesses get analytics & a way to recognize, reward, contact their regular customers directly.

Funny line from co-founder Reed Morse: “Punchd is a hyper-local real-time deal platform…in your pants. That sounds like a lot of buzzword bullshit, but think about it.”

Rewardli is a social commerce platform that lets small businesses pool their buying power to get cash back and discounts on their purchases.

Visual.ly is 2 things; a platform for exploring, sharing, and promoting great visualizations. And a service that connects dataviz pros, to advertisers & publishers looking for compelling content.

Wednesdays: Get connected IRL. Wednesdays makes it easy to coordinate face-to-face lunches with colleagues, interest groups, and friends.

YongoPal is mobile photo-sharing for English learning and cultural exploration.

Ninua connects readers and writers through social news exploration. Largest Facebook news app. New mobile app. 1.7M active users and growing.

Crowdrally is making videos social.

Co-founder Evan Kuo put on quite a show. His company previously built a fan page product, he said, but, “About six weeks ago Facebook tried to C&D our asses. They said you can’t monetize the stream. If we can’t monetize it, we can’t monetize it.” So now Crowdrally is building a communal remote control tool to play videos on a TV screen from a laptop or mobile device. Kuo challenged attendees to give him a million bucks so he can walk away from his existing acquisition offers.

Baydin is building the future of email.

SpeakerGram is the easiest way to book and manage speaking engagements.

955 Dreams is a new media publishing company focused on the Music and Education verticals.

500 Startups also offered a list of companies it has seed-funded, some of whom presented at the event.

Tokyo-based startup myGengo is the Mechanical Turk for translation: A platform and API for human translation at huge scale.

Ginzametrics makes website optimization for search and social media simple, fast and super-scalable.

Saygent is the world’s smartest voice response & analysis SaaS for superior customer insights

Volta is an A/B testing framework for live, outbound phone calls.

Too much email? AwayFind puts an end to constant email interruptions, only notifying you with messages that matter NOW — via mobile/SMS/etc.

Social Stork bottles the social activity of new moms and gives advice, community, and contextual introductions to the perfect baby products along the journey.

Evoz connects busy moms to their babies from ANYWHERE and delivers personalized parenting content and services based on their baby’s data.

WorkersNow is an online staffing platform that is changing the way blue-collar workers are hired.

Motion Math creates learning games for mobile, turning math’s stumbling blocks into delightful game experiences.

ReadyForZero is online financial software that tracks your credit card debt, and helps you make and follow a plan to eliminate it.


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I think the NSA has a job to do and we need the NSA. But as (physicist) Robert Oppenheimer said, “When you see something that is technically sweet, you go ahead and do it and argue about what to do about it only after you’ve had your technical success. That is the way it was with the atomic bomb.”

— Phil Zimmerman, PGP inventor and Silent Circle co-founder, in an interview with Om Malik